Mask order

Want to download and print this poster for the front door of your business? Click here for a print-ready .pdf.


Minnesota’s statewide mask order took effect July 25. What does this mean for Winona? Just one main change to the city’s current order: Children older than 5 are required to wear masks.

We’re thankful for Mayor Mark Peterson, for initiating Winona’s citywide order a full 12 days before the state order, and for the Winona City Council members who affirmed the order. Masks are a critical part of stopping the COVID-19 spread.

More details:

Winona’s mask order requires all Winona residents and visitors to wear face coverings in indoor areas broadly accessible to the public – including customers and employees at businesses open to the general public.The City of Winona’s citywide mask order took effect July 10 and currently runs through September 8.

“The single most important action any Winonan can take to prevent the spread of COVID is to wear a mask,” said Winona Mayor Mark Peterson. “This is the right thing to do. This order will help keep our businesses open, allow our schools and universities to open this fall, and most importantly protect the health and safety of all Winona residents.”

Why is the city doing this? Most importantly, a mask order protects the health and safety of all Winonans. It will help keep all of our businesses open, allow our schools and universities to open this fall, and much more. The single most important action any Winonan can take to keep their family and neighbors safe and prevent the spread of COVID is to wear a mask.

Here are answers to several questions about the citywide order. If you have further questions, reach out to Mayor Mark Peterson at, or city manager Stephen T. Sarvi at 507-457-8234 and

Click or tap here to read the full text of the order.


Here’s a guide with specific questions and answers for businesses, including retail, bars/restaurants, manufacturing, professional services, health/wellness, and more.

And click here to download a print-ready poster to hang on your front door!


We will update this list as we get answers to new questions. Please email Brian at if you have specific questions you do not see answered below.

When did it take effect? How long does it go for?
The order took effect July 10. It currently runs through September 8. The order can be extended or ended by the city council. It would also end if there’s a higher order – for example, a statewide mask order that comes from the governor.

What counts as a mask or face covering?
A mask, or face covering, is a manufactured or homemade cloth covering that fully covers an individual’s nose and mouth.

Where do I have to wear a mask?
The order has several requirements for wearing masks, including: Employees and customers of retail businesses; public transportation users; patrons of bars and restaurants when not seated at tables; gym users and entertainment venue attendees (when individuals are closer than 6 feet to another person); and more.

What can I do about my kids? I really struggle to get them to wear a mask.
There is an exemption for kids younger than 10 (this has changed – it was initially younger than 2), and a broad exemption for kids or adults of any age at a developmental stage where wearing a mask is really difficult, could cause distress or disruption, or be outright dangerous. We strongly encourage caregivers to help kids of all ages wear masks for as long as they’re able and comfortable. Do what you can, but don’t worry about it if your kids are struggling – they are kids.

What if I don’t have a mask or face covering?
The city is committed to ensuring this will not create a burden for anyone. We’ve been providing disposable masks to dozens of businesses until they’ve been able to order their own, giving them away daily at a non-contact station at the the Central Fire Station (451 E. Third St., on top of the mailbox on the Laird Street side), working to provide free masks at convenient locations to anyone who needs them, and continuing to urge businesses to provide them to customers.

If you’re on Facebook, visit the Winona Neighbors Helping Neighbors mutual aid group to request a mask from one of several volunteers providing them for donations or for free.

Do we have to wear masks when we’re worshipping?
No. That decision is up to individual churches and faith organizations.

Do outdoor businesses have to require employees and customers to wear masks?
No. If the business primarily operates outdoors (like a nursery, or a pick-your-own berry farm) masks are not required but physical distancing should still be enforced.

The business I work at isn’t open to the public but isn’t following good practices on letting employees wear masks or stay 6 feet apart from each other. Does this order address that?
No. If the business isn’t open to the general public, it’s up to the business whether to require masks for employees. Some resources that might help:

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry COVID-19 updates

OSHA COVID-19 standards and enforcement practices

You can also contact the Winona Fire Department at 507-457-8266 – they will work with your business on their COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

I saw someone not wearing a mask at a store. Can I report them?
You can mention something to a business employee if you feel comfortable doing so, but that’s it. Please do not confront other people – you can’t know their situation, or their reason for not wearing a mask.

I went to a business and nobody was wearing masks. What should I do?
The best solution in most cases is to simply leave if you don’t feel comfortable. If you feel comfortable speaking to an employee or owner, okay, as long as you’re respectful and non-confrontational. In any case, let us know: The police department or fire department will visit businesses that are reportedly not complying, in order to remind them of the order and work with them on their COVID-19 safety plan.

You can send us a message with details by using this form.

Does this order apply to in-home daycare and daycare centers?
No. The order only applies to businesses that are broadly open to the public. But if kids are taken on trips to these kinds of businesses, they may be required to wear masks.

What if I work with or take care of people with disabilities or dementia?
This is up to you and your judgment – if it would cause distress or harm, they don’t need to wear a mask.

I have a legitimate health concern where I can’t wear a mask, and I do need to be in public. How do I deal with this? Do I have to wear a sign on my shirt or something? Can I get an exemption?
It’s a really good question. There’s no definitive answer. There’s no formal exemption application. And we’re certainly not asking people to carry papers or wear signs. We’re really relying on folks – customers, employees, everyone in public – to use common sense, good judgment, and lots of compassion.

If you have a legitimate issue that prevents you from wearing a mask, that’s your call to make. This may result in you needing to have a conversation at some point when you’re at a store. Stores will have different approaches and we can’t guarantee you won’t be asked to leave. We apologize for causing this hardship. This order is not a perfect solution, but it’s the best step we’re able to take at this time.

And please – don’t fall for the bogus “exemption cards” floating around claiming that mask orders violate ADA and HIPAA laws. Don’t use them. They aren’t true and using them will just create more problems for everyone.

The law says if I’m legally carrying a gun I can’t wear a mask. Is that true?
No. You can wear a mask and carry as long as you have your permit to carry and follow all other laws. 

Minnesota law, unrelated to permit to carry law, does restrict the use of face coverings, but it doesn’t prohibit them. After all, we live in Minnesota – we wear face coverings like hats and scarves practically half the year anyway.

The statute provides broad exemptions that are easily interpreted to address this. This includes an exemption for medical treatment – and wearing a mask during a pandemic most certainly falls in that category according to the city attorney and police department.

Genuine question as a bartender: Does this mean no one can stand around at the bar without a mask on and drink? Like only if you are seated, can you remove your mask to drink?
Generally people ordering drinks at a bar should be wearing a mask, while those seated on barstools may not be. That said, the 6 feet physical distance rule also applies, so those seated should wear them. 

What about being outside – parks, public places, hiking trails and such? Do I have to wear a mask?
Nope – for the most part. The order only applies to indoor spaces. We want to see folks outside – it’s safer and healthier (not to mention beautiful). Please practice 6 feet of physical distancing, change your pace to pass or wait for others to pass you, and wear masks if you’re in groups and can’t physically distance.

I live in an apartment building. My neighbors are always talking to each other in the hallway without wearing masks. What do I do about that?
The order only applies to indoor public spaces. An apartment building is a private residence – you should reach out to your landlord or building owner if you have concerns.

For businesses such as Walmart – they count people, so you can optimize physical distancing indoors. According to these stipulations, wouldn’t a mask there be optional?
No. Masks are required in indoor spaces open to the public. In the case of retail stores, while we definitely appreciate that they’re limiting customers, there’s no way to enforce 6 feet of physical distancing – they can’t prevent situations where folks end up next to each other in the same aisle, or pass by close to each other.

Aren’t softball games and other summer sports and rec activities starting again? How’s that going to work?
The order only applies to indoor spaces. That said, we strongly encourage folks outdoors in groups to either respect the 6-foot physical distance guidelines, wear a mask, or both. For softball, this could mean some creative dugout setups and folks avoiding the bleachers in favor of bringing their own chairs.

Who approved the order?
Mayor Mark Peterson signed the initial order on July 7; it took effect July 10. The mayor has the authority under the local emergency declaration the city council approved this spring in response to COVID-19. The Winona City Council affirmed and extended the order on July 20; it currently lasts until September 8.

Why now?
The city has been proactive in our COVID response from the very first day. A citywide mask order was the next step in making a difference before experiencing a significant increase in cases. The rising number of COVID-19 cases in La Crosse, Trempealeau County and elsewhere in the region are really troubling. We needed to act immediately to avoid a further spike.

What happens if I don’t comply?
We really hope you do. This is about having compassion and care for your neighbors. But in the case where anyone chooses not to comply, and does not meet a reason for exemption, they will be asked to leave the business or area. If they refuse, law enforcement may enforce trespassing laws. Businesses that violate the proclamation may face administrative action for any licenses they possess with the city. 

Why not just ask people to voluntarily wear masks?
The city launched Wear One For Winona to do exactly that. It’s been incredibly successful – hundreds of individuals and more than 70 businesses have taken mask-wearing selfies and shared them across social media. We’ll continue promoting this campaign throughout the summer. But we also needed quick action to prevent the kind of spikes in cases we’re seeing in our neighboring communities.

I want to Wear One For Winona – how do I participate?
Great! Participate today by posting a selfie in your social media feed (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) with the hashtag #WearOneForWinona and your reason for wearing a mask! We’ll find your photo and share it. You can search the hashtag #WearOneForWinona, or visit the city’s COVID-19 page on Facebook or Instagram, to see the hundreds of folks participating.